“That was always the plan.”
Among other moves today, the Red Wings assigned Michael Rasmussen – their first rounder from last summer’s draft, ninth overall – back to the Tri-Cities Americans of the Western Hockey League.
Rasmussen led the Red Wings in goals scored over the preseason, with four goals in five games. One might think that’d earn him an extended look, especially considering that he could play up to nine games in the NHL without burning the first year of his entry-level contract. As I was reminded many times via Twitter and has been included in most of the articles about his demotion, though, it was always the plan to send him back to junior.
It might be the right move. With the salary cap crunch the Red Wings are facing, buying an extra year before Rasmussen hits free agency definitely makes sense. With the roster the team is looking at, though, there’s certainly a case that can be made for keeping him up (at least for those free nine games).
Rasmussen is better served by playing top-line minutes, we hear, than toiling on the fourth line in Detroit. Absolutely true. But that’s a false equivalency.
Martin Frk, who has made the opening night lineup after being waived out of town (and later brought back) to start the season last year, is currently slotted on the nominal top line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. I suggest that he could have gone on a line with Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader instead, bumping Darren Helm onto Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening’s line, and pushing Luke Witkowski into the 13th forward’s spot. Then Rasmussen would join Larkin and Mantha, getting those top-line minutes.
This has trickle-down impact as by the time Rasmussen’s nine games are up – or it has been determined that he’s unable to play that role, if that’s what comes of it – Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeny Svechnikov may be ready to step up. This would make signing David Booth, which seems inevitable right now, unnecessary.
Whether or not it’s the right move, the fact that this was always the plan smacks of “Red Wings Way” to me.
No one expected Rasmussen to come in and score four goals. That’s fine. But how many goals would he have had to score to change the plan? Is it even possible to change the plan? Because there’s another plan that looks like it could be good here, but we won’t see it because it was never the plan.